In this activity, students determine their own eyesight and calculate what a good average eyesight value for the class would be. Students learn about technologies to enhance eyesight and how engineers play an important role in the development of these technologies.
Students explore the interface between architecture and engineering. In the associated hands-on activity, students act as both architects and engineers by designing and building a small parking garage.
Students learn that dams do not last forever. Similar to other human-made structures, such as roads and bridges, dams require regular maintenance and have a finite lifespan. Many dams built during the 1930-70s, an era of intensive dam construction, have an expected life of 50-100 years. Due to inadequate maintenance and/or for environmental reasons, some of these dams will fail or be removed in the next 50 years. The engineers with Splash Engineering have an ethical obligation to remind Thirsty County of the maintenance and lifespan concerns associated with its dam.
In this activity, students learn about their heart rate and different ways it can be measured. Students construct a simple measurement device using clay and a toothpick, and then use this device to measure their heart rate under different circumstances (i.e., sitting, standing and jumping). Students make predictions and record data on a worksheet.
In this math activity, students conduct a strength test using modeling clay, creating their own stress vs. strain graphs, which they compare to typical steel and concrete graphs. They learn the difference between brittle and ductile materials and how understanding the strength of materials, especially steel and concrete, is important for engineers who design bridges and structures.
Students explore how tension and compression forces act on three different bridge types. Using sponges, cardboard and string, they create models of beam, arch and suspension bridges and apply forces to understand how they disperse or transfer these loads.
Students are presented with a brief history of bridges as they learn about the three main bridge types: beam, arch and suspension. They are introduced to two natural forces tension and compression common to all bridges and structures. Throughout history, and today, bridges are important for connecting people to resources, places and other people. Students become more aware of the variety and value of bridges around us in our everyday lives.
Athletes often wear protective gear to keep themselves safe in contact sports. In this spirit, students follow the steps of engineering design process as they design, build and test protective padding for an egg drop. Many of the design considerations surrounding egg drops are similar to sports equipment design. Watching the transformation of energy from potential to kinetic, observing the impact and working under material constraints introduces students to "sports engineering" and gives them a chance to experience some of the challenges engineers face in designing equipment to protect athletes.
In some cities, especially large cities such as Los Angeles or Mexico City, visible air pollution is a major problem, both for human health and the environment. A variety of sources contribute to air pollution, but personal vehicles account for one of the main sources. Though each car has relatively low emissions when compared to vehicles of the 1970s, there are so many more cars on the road now that their emissions play a large role in overall pollution. In this activity, students think about alternate ways to power a vehicle to reduce emissions. Student teams design an eco-friendly car using the engineering design process, and make a presentation to showcase their product.
Students are introduced to chemical engineering and learn about its many different applications. They are provided with a basic introduction to matter and its different properties and states. An associated hands-on activity gives students a chance to test their knowledge of the states of matter and how to make observations using their five senses: touch, smell, sound, sight and taste.
Students learn about the many types of expenses associated with building a bridge. Working like engineers, they estimate the cost for materials for a bridge member of varying sizes. After making calculations, they graph their results to compare how costs change depending on the use of different materials (steel vs. concrete). They conclude by creating a proposal for a city bridge design based on their findings.
Students learn how the force of water helps determine the size and shape of dams. They use clay to build models of four types of dams, and observe the force of the water against each type. They conclude by deciding which type of dam they, as Splash Engineering engineers, will design for Thirsty County.
While the creation of a dam provides many benefits, it can have negative impacts on local ecosystems. Students learn about the major environmental impacts of dams and the engineering solutions used to address them.
Students conduct Internet research to investigate the purpose and current functioning status of some of the largest dams throughout the world. They investigate the success or failure of eight dams and complete a worksheet. While researching the dams, they also gain an understanding of the scale of these structures by recording and comparing their reservoir capacities. Students come to understand that dams, like all engineered structures, have a finite lifespan and require ongoing maintenance and evaluation for their usefulness.
Students learn about the types of possible loads, how to calculate ultimate load combinations, and investigate the different sizes for the beams (girders) and columns (piers) of simple bridge design. Students learn the steps that engineers use to design bridges: understanding the problem, determining the potential bridge loads, calculating the highest possible load, and calculating the amount of material needed to resist the loads.
The digestive system is amazing: it takes the foods we eat and breaks them into smaller components that our body can use for energy, cell repair and growth. This lesson introduces students to the main parts of the digestive system and how they interact. In addition, students learn about some of the challenges astronauts face when trying to eat in outer space.
In this activity, students squeeze a tennis ball to demonstrate the strength of the human heart. Working in teams, they think of ways to keep the heart beating if the natural mechanism were to fail. The goal of this activity is to get students to understand the strength and resilience of the heart.
Imagining themselves arriving at the Olympic gold medal soccer game in Beijing, students begin to think about how engineering is involved in sports. After a discussion of kinetic and potential energy, an associated hands-on activity gives students an opportunity to explore energy absorbing materials as they try to protect an egg from being crushed.
Students use wood, wax paper and oil to investigate the importance of lubrication between materials and to understand the concept of friction. Using wax paper and oil placed between pieces of wood, the function of lubricants between materials is illustrated. Students extend their understanding of friction to bones and joints in the skeletal system and become aware of what engineers can do to help reduce friction in the human body as well as in machines.
Students review information learned during the past five lessons and activities of the Introduction to Engineering unit. Working in teams, they create flyers and short quizzes about various types of engineering to share with the class and collect into a "Olympic Engineering Binder" for the class to keep.